Maybe you don’t have an Italian grandma to make you vats of comforting soup, but you can fake it with this quick-simmered pasta that’s just as satisfying as the real thing. Ladle it up, and don’t forget to add lots of Parmesan.
|2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese||1 small yellow onion, minced|
|2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs||2 celery stalks, finely diced|
|1/4 teaspoon kosher salt||2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds or half-moons|
|1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper||3 cups chicken broth|
|1/4 teaspoon garlic powder||1/2 teaspoon salt (kosher)|
|1 large egg||3 cups roughly chopped fresh escarole or spinach|
|1/2 pound ground beef||1/2 pound ditalini|
|2 tablespoons olive oil||grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, for garnish|
Make the meatballs: Stir the cheese, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and egg together in a large bowl.
Gently mix in the beef with your hands until combined. Roll into balls about 3/4 inch in diameter; you should have about 2 dozen meatballs.
Make the pasta: Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed, high-sided skillet, sauté pan, or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering.
Add the meatballs in a single layer -- you may need to cook them in two batches depending on the size of your pan -- and cook until browned on all sides, flipping after a minute or two per side.
Transfer the meatballs to a plate and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, celery, and carrots.
Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the chicken broth and salt, cover, and bring to a simmer.
Stir in the escarole and pasta and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes until the pasta is tender and has absorbed most of the liquid. Return the meatballs to the pan during the last minute or two of cooking to heat through.
Serve with grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese on the side for sprinkling.
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